With a team full of young blossoming stars beginning the 2018 season, the veteran presence of Brett Gardner will prove to be crucial if the Yankees want to succeed.
What do former Yankees Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Jim Leyritz, Mark Teixeira, Mike Mussina, and Robinson Cano all have in common?
None of them played 11 years in pinstripes.
Not many have, but Brett Gardner is about to do just that. However, prior to the 2017 season, Brett Gardner’s name was brought up every time the word “trade” came up. But last year, in his 10th season, Gardner posted career highs in Hits, HRs, SLG, OPS and finished 10th in the AL in defensive WAR.
This is the reason why Gardner and the trade talks were nonexistent this off-season, right? Wrong. While last years performance didn’t hurt his stock price, it was the investment in youth and the departure of Yankee veterans a year earlier that has ended the Gardner trade talks.
Let’s take a look at the sequence of events that have now made Brett Gardner more valuable to the Yankees than ever before.
- July 2016, Brian Cashman sells Hal Steinbrenner on the idea of becoming sellers at the trade deadline and go on to acquire Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier who were the top prospects in the Cubs and Indians organization. The Yankees begin to call up a number of players from Scranton (Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, & Tyler Austin)
- On August 5, 2016, Mark Teixeria announced he would retire at the end of the season.
- On August 12, 2016, Alex Rodriguez retires.
- November 2016, Brian McCann is traded to the Houston Astros.
- December 2016, Carlos Beltran signs with the Houston Astros.
When the Yankees organization and fans see Brett Gardner now, they see a guy who is responsible for leading this young core. They see a guy who can grind out at-bats in big situations.
Should you need reassurance of this, please re-watch his game-winning home run at Wrigley Field in May when the Yankees were down to their at-bat, the go-ahead home run in the Wild Card Game in October, and the 12 pitch at bat in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the ALDS to give the Yankees much needed insurance runs prior to Chapman closing the door vs the Indians.
Brett Gardner, now age 33, started his career with the Yankees in 2009 when he was just 25 years old. At that time, Derek Jeter (35), Jorge Posada (37), Andy Pettitte (37), and Mariano Rivera (39) were the leaders of that team. That year ended with a World Series Championship.
Fast forward 10 Seasons and Brett Gardner will now look to play the role that those veterans played in 2009. It’s his time to lead this young group and organization to their 28th World Championship, and you better believe he is ready for it.